Yet another question on intellectual property

Listening to sports radio where Johnny Manziel is apparently filing for a trademark on “Johnny Football”. The NCAA has ruled that if he wins any damages he can keep it. Now considering the “expert” at first called it a copyright and not a trademark, I think it is questionable his IP expertise.

  1. Manziel seems to think any use of “Johnny Football” is illegal while his application is being processed. That can’t be true.

  2. The main focus is on a guy that made “Johnny Football” tshirts before Manziel even filed his app. How is that a trademark violation? I know from registering a servicemark that if another person has prior usage of your mark they can still use it in their geographical area even if the mark is granted.

  3. To establish prior use before the prior use in #2, TA&M is saying that they wee making “Johnny Football” shirts before the guy in #2. That means that for some reason Manziel actually gets credited for prior use of the trademark. How does that work? I know you could sell a trademark but I don’t think you can transfer prior usage.


  1. You are not required to register a trademark, though it often helps. Trademarks are use it or loose it kind of thing.

  2. “Johnny Football” trademark was first registered in Nov 2012 and the application has not yet been processed. Anybody can challenge it, if they think they have better claim.

Regarding #2 - trademarks (supposedly) exist to show the source of a product. If someone was using “Johnny Football” to refer to something completely different from Johnny Manziel, then they would probably be fine. But if they were purposely selling shirts to cash in on Manziel’s fame and popularity, then it could be infringement (since the product is confusing to the consumer as to whether it’s officially from Manziel or not). Which he probably was, considering the T-shirts weren’t being sold until last year and they’re in Texas A&M colors. That’s only one of the many factors that go into ascertaining infringement, but it’d be an important one in this case.